Egyptians got a fever for fava! (Foul Medammes)

Along with koushari and molokheyia, fava beans are the three staple foods of Egypt.  Once this post is published, you’ll be able to cook the basic Egyptian foods in vegan variations (most of them started out that way, anyway)!

I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that fava beans are eaten thousands of ways in Egypt.  Known as foul (pronounced ‘fool’), the fava beans lend themselves to so many different flavors and cooking techniques, it’s hard to keep track!  In fact, you could probably write an entire blog just about how to cook and season fava beans!

Egyptians eat foul for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  You can find them gathering in the morning around small carts savoring warm foul with fresh bread on their way to work.  You can hear the man selling foul in the evening walking by and calling out “fooooooooooooool!”.  Just call out and he’ll bring you as much warm, freshly cooked foul as you can fit into your container.

When Egyptians make foul at home, they use a long-necked, tapered container called a “damasa” (that’s why this foul is called foul medammes).  Supposedly this long neck is necessary to provide for the proper slow cooking of the beans.  I never had one of these kitchen items, so I always stayed away from making my own homemade foul until I recently found a recipe that had an easy work around.  So I thought I’d share the vegan version with all of you here on Alf Hana.

Serves 2-4 people

  • 1 cup dried fava beans
  • 4 cups cold water
  • 1/4 cup red lentils

1.  Wash beans and pick out any dirt or stones.  Cover with the water.  Leave to soak overnight.

Left: bean soaked overnight, Right: dried bean

2.  Put both the beans AND THEIR SOAKING WATER in a heavy pot that has a tight-fitting lid.  (Yes, you read that right.  Do not discard the soaking water.  Use it for cooking.)
3.  Add lentils.

4.  Cover tightly and cook on very low heat for 3 hours.
5.  Check beans every hour or so and add water if they look dry.  (I added about 1 cup after about 1 and a half hours.)
6.  Try not to stir the beans while they cook.  The beans are ready when they are soft and easily crushed with a spoon.


Cooked foul, before seasoning

I like to mash mine with a fork as I season it.

Typical way to eat foul. This technique is known as the 'rabbit's ear' because the way you scoop up the beans with the bread looks like the shape of the rabbit's ear.

Our foul feast!

Nutrition Information (for 1 of 4 servings, unseasoned foul):

Calories: 170; Fat: 0g (for unseasoned foul); Cholesterol: 0g; Carbohydrates: 29g; Fiber: 13g; Protein: 13g

Serving Suggestions and Variations:

Here’s with things get creative!  To serve, use any combination of spice you like.

  • Here are some traditional spices Egyptians use:  salt, cumin, garlic, lemon, onions, oil, hot red pepper, parsley, tomatoes
  • I usually like to have mine (about 1 cup of beans) with salt (about 1/2 a teaspoon), cumin (about 1/4 teaspoon), lemon (about 1/2 a teaspoon), and oil (about 1 – 2 teaspoons).  I usually keep the onions and tomatoes separate so I can munch on them after every few bites.  Of course, foul wouldn’t be foul without baladi bread (much like pita bread).
  • Some Egyptians like to purée the foul in the food processor before serving.
  • Most Egyptians would not serve the foul seasoned.  They’d leave you to make it the way you like it!
  • Alexandrian foul is famous for its mix of tahina, parsley and oil.
  • Sometimes I like to have foul with oil and tomato paste or pureed tomatoes – yummy!
  • Try different kinds of oils (olive, corn, etc.) and see which you like best.

Alf Hana!!!

14 responses to “Egyptians got a fever for fava! (Foul Medammes)

  1. These sound delicious! Thank you fo sharing the traditional cooking techniques from your country 🙂

  2. i am so excited about your foul recipe! yum, i love foul a lot.


  3. Oh, how delicious! What an excellent and useful post!

  4. I think dazee has gotten olive oil in there for us, but I haven’t checked it out. O f course, he forgot to tell me about all the happy-action going on in there too! What was your favorite?

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  7. Ana oheb il-fool 😀

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  9. I would LOVE it if you would show a recipe for Egyptian baladi bread. I have tried every pita bread recipe known to mankind and cannot get it right! I went to Egypt over the summer and the chewy delicious bread still sticks with me! Any suggestions? And thank you so much for this blog, it’s awesome!!! Your Basbousa saved my life 🙂

  10. Hi Michelle!!! Thank you so much for your sweet words! Yes, we are always working on new recipes. Baladi bread is a definite challenge – and one that is one our list!!! Let’s hope for success soon!!! 🙂

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  12. that looks so good! id like to know the purpose of the lentils?? i never heard of adding lentils. every time i try to make foul from dried beans the skins are always hard even if i add baking soda to the soak… so we always use the canned ones… also why do u not discard the soaking water…. i was always told to discard soaking water of beans…

  13. I’m not sure what the purpose of the lentils is, but it’s always been something we’ve been advised by our mentoring Egyptian cooks (also known as aunts, cousins, and mothers!) to add. Perhaps it adds some creaminess…
    So, we don’t discard the soaking water yes. We usually are advised to discard soaking water because it makes the beans cause less gas when we eat them. You can discard it, if you like. It won’t make too much of a difference. 😉

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